The Ashes: Is time running out for David Warner’s Test career? Australian struggling ahead of England series | Cricket News


David Warner has been great for Australia – but he has not been great of late.

His overall Test batting average is 45.31 but over his last 15 matches he averages 26.04. He has amassed 8,202 runs across his 104 Tests but only 651 in those previous 15.

Two hundred of those runs came in one hit, against South Africa at the MCG in December, with that knock the only time Warner has passed fifty across his last 17 innings.

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For a man with some sublime numbers, his recent ones have been sub-par.

Now, the 36-year-old is preparing for an Ashes series in a country where he averages 25.74 from 14 Tests.

The chances are that he comes up against a bowler, in Stuart Broad, who removed him seven times during the 2019 Ashes in England – as he recorded an average below 10 – and who has dismissed him 14 times in 26 Tests, more than any other bowler.

Warner has earmarked January’s New Year’s Test against Pakistan in his native Sydney as his endpoint in red-ball cricket, but unless his stats dramatically improve over the coming weeks, that dream might be dashed. Even the end of this Ashes series could be a stretch too far.

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England seamer Stuart Broad is looking forward to renewing his rivalry with Warner during The Ashes

There were some positive signs for Warner during the 209-run win over India in the World Test Championship final at The Kia Oval last week. Not in his second-innings one from eight balls but definitely in his first-innings 43 from 60.

Warner had to endure a seam-bowling barrage from India and did incredibly well to survive, but once seeing that off he began to play more fluently, punching and cutting Umesh Yadav for four boundaries in one over. It looked, briefly, like the Warner of old.

The opener’s innings came to an end at the hands of a right-arm seamer from around the wicket – Broad’s ears will have pricked up at that news – although this time Warner was not lbw, bowled or caught off his outside edge, but pouched gloving down the leg-side.

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Warner was caught down the leg-side for 43 in the first innings of Australia’s 209-run win over India in the World Test Championship final

Warner would have been frustrated as he trudged off the field in south London but probably knew he had done enough to end any debate about whether he would start The Ashes. Now it is a case of whether he finishes them.

Australia have other opening options in their squad in Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw.

Harris averages 57.12 in County Championship Division Two for Gloucestershire this season, with two hundreds and as many fifties. In his previous game, against Durham in May, he made one of each.

Renshaw, meanwhile, scored two centuries and a 78 for Australia A against New Zealand A in April in a series that was played against the Dukes ball, the same seed Australia will face during The Ashes.

But Harris’ Test record is 25.29 in 14 games with a best of 79. Renshaw’s is 29.31 from the same number of matches and in his last eight Tests, stretching back to March 2017, he averages 12.75 with just four double-figure scores.

Marcus Harris, Gloucestershire (Getty Images)
Marcus Harris is a contender to replace Warner in Australia’s Test side but has a lean record in international cricket

It would be a bold move to jettison Warner for either of those two, especially in the white-hot cauldron of an Ashes series against an England side brimming with confidence.

Warner’s recent returns may have been slim but this is a man with 25 Test centuries, one of which came before lunch on day one against Pakistan in Sydney in January 2017.

He has the second-highest score by an Australian in Test cricket, with his unbeaten 335 – Pakistan again the team pummelled – behind only Matthew Hayden’s 380 versus Zimbabwe.

He has the joint sixth-fastest Test hundred of all time – a 69-ball onslaught at home to India in January 2012 – and four Test centuries at under a run-a-ball in total.

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Warner hopes to bow out from Test cricket in January – but will he make it that far?

Warner has always been an outlier.

The first Australian since 1877 to play international cricket before making his first-class debut, a player who batted in far more aggressive fashion than most Test openers – at least until Bazball came along.

Now he is an outlier in another way. Most of his team-mates are scoring runs and he is not.

Australia will probably not move on yet but if Warner continues to struggle at Edgbaston and Lord’s over the first two Ashes Tests, they might have a big decision to make.

If there was ever a time for Warner to show his greatness, it is now.

Watch The Ashes live on Sky Sports Cricket from Friday. Build-up at Edgbaston begins from 9.30am with the first ball at 11am.


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